Call of the Wild

Call of the Wild

Review by Andy Call of the Wild is one of the best classics I’ve ever read. That isn’t much considering I don’t like many classics and that I haven’t read many, but it’s up there with Sherlock Holmes. I even liked it better than Jules Verne which I thought was pretty good. The beginning is a bit boring, but it gets a lot better as the story progresses. The characters are good enough, and overall, it’s not a bad book. There aren’t really any strong characters except the main character Buck. Spitz is as well but other than those two there aren’t very many stand outs. The incident with Thornton’s bragging – Buck’s favorite master – was an interesting and shows of why you shouldn’t brag. Buck is odd since he strives to be leader, and to prove he’s better than everyone else, yet he is from the “soft” south… Read more »

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Fear Nothing

Fear Nothing

Review by Travis Starnes Fear Nothing is the 7th book in the D.D. Warren series and follows her on the track of a gruesome serial killer and recovery from an excruciating injury.  As seems to be the trend lately this is a book in the middle of a series that I am coming into cold.  Luckily this is another one that works without having read the previous adventures of Detective Warren. As characters go Gardner’s seem fairly aggressive, which isn’t unusual for detective style mysteries, but it does make them a lot less likable.  It is hard to tell if this is an offshoot of the story, seeing as how a character sidelined because of a debilitating and extremely painful injury would indeed be very angry and aggressive, or if this is just her way of writing characters.  Regardless the continuing characters get enough of an introduction to be fully… Read more »

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Hive Monkey

Hive Monkey

Review by Travis Starnes With Zeppelins, a gun touting monkey, some cross dimensional hygienic, Neanderthal assassins, and a cult made of hive-mind connected creeps, Hive Monkey really throws a lot of stuff at a reader.  This alternate earth sci-fi story set in almost present day on a world that took a different path then our own. I really wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I started this book.  I had never heard of the series and the only reason I picked it was l loved the cover.  Turns out it is the second in a series about Ack-Ack Macaque, an up-evolved monkey that curses, smokes, and flies a Spitfire to relax.  While I enjoyed this book I did find it a little bit difficult to get into.  I think I might have been about to get into it more, and even enjoyed it more, had I read the… Read more »

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The Invisible Code

The Invisible Code

Review by Travis Starnes The Invisible Code is a classic detective style mystery turned on its head by the addition of the mystic and the supernatural, but not really. I will start by saying the overall core mystery in this book isn’t bad.  It has some interesting twists to it, although the “ah-ha” moment where the facts are reveled do not stand up to scrutiny of the original passages of past events.  When the “real” way an event in the book went down is revealed, it in really doesn’t resemble what the reader actually experienced.  That however isn’t too big of detraction since that is not so unusual in mystery books and it is the journey and not the re-read that is the real test of a book. My big issue with this book is the detectives specialize in puzzling murders and during the investigation put up all sorts of… Read more »

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Interview with John Gwynne

Interview with John Gwynne

Interview by Travis Starnes John Gwynne, author of the fantasy novel Malice and it’s upcoming sequel Valor, was nice enough to connect with me and agree to my request for an interview about his book and the rich world he created for it. One thing that I found interesting was that while this is an old school fantasy novel it isn’t in the wizards and orc school of fantasy that we see so often. What was your inspiration for the style of this? Did you intend for it be unique from the standard style of fantasy or was that just a coincidence? The short answer is that I tried to write something that I love, and I love reading fantasy and historical fiction, so I wanted Malice to reflect something of both those passions. I didn’t have a game plan with Malice, it started as a hobby, evolving from very… Read more »

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Hammett Unwritten

Hammett Unwritten

Review by Travis Starnes Hammett Unwritten is an interesting take on the author and his creation.  It starts with the premise that the events in the Maltese Falcon were autobiographical and that Sam Spade was in fact Hammett himself. I have to give this book points for uniqueness.  I haven’t read a novel quite like this and considering how many books, and specifically mysteries, I read that is saying something.  The book takes meta to a whole new place and for that I commend Fitzstephen.  If you are knowledgeable about Hammett himself then this book might be tough to read as it completely recreates the author’s life and experiences.  However if you only know him from his works then this book is a unique mystery worth checking out. There is however some reliance on knowing the original works.  If you haven’t read any of Hammett’s books then first, shame on… Read more »

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Interview with David Rollins

Interview with David Rollins

Interview by Travis Starnes David Rollins, the author of the Vin Cooper series and it’s latest installment Standoff, was kind enough to take the time and answer a few questions I had after reading his book. This is my first time reading a Vin Cooper story, but I didn’t feel like I missed much when reading Standoff. Did you try and make it easy for new readers to get into on purpose? If so, was it tough trying to both make him accessible for new readers and still play on earlier connections? The answer to your first question is yes. I recognize that many readers won’t start at the beginning so I put enough backstory into each book to make it a stand alone. Hopefully that backstory doesn’t drag and you get to know Cooper well enough to want to hang out with him for a while. It’s not helpful or… Read more »

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Interview with Ellen Larson

Interview with Ellen Larson

Interview by Travis Starnes I had the opportunity to connect with Ellen Larson and ask her son questions about her book In Retrospect.  I have to say I was a fan of hers just from reading this book but I am more so now that I have had a chance to talk to her.  She clearly loves to write and has a passion for her material that is heartening to see.  She mentioned after answering my questions that one of the reasons for writing a time travel story was the challenge of making the readers head explode from the “ah-ha” moment.  How can you not like a writer has that as a goal. She also sent a brief background of the world she created for In Retrospect.  I have included that at the bottom of the interview.  You can find the full text along with other information about the series www.inretrospectbook.com/backstory.html…. Read more »

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In Retrospect

In Retrospect

Review by Travis Starnes In Retrospect is time travel story mixed with a who-dun-it style mystery set against a dystopian sci-fi backdrop.  It sounds like a strange mixture but Larson completely pulls off this interesting collogue of genres. When it comes to sci-fi, and especially dystopian and post-apocalyptic future (or in this case post-post-apocalyptic) sci-fi, the setting is what makes or breaks the book for me.  Larson did what I think works the best by creating a detailed world and just hinting at all this past information.  Similar to Tolkien’s work you can feel the history of the world the book never focuses on that far history.  You know there was some kind of apocalyptic event, that prior to that a limited form of time travel was invented and that after the event new civilizations rose to take the place of the old powers.  I would actually be interested to… Read more »

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The Punishment Imperative

The Punishment Imperative

Review by Travis Starnes The Punishment Imperative is an in-depth look at the growth of the prison population and some of the things that led to the fivefold increase in the number of incarcerated over the last 35 years. This is a subject I find completely interesting and a topic that I think is important for most Americans to know about and discuss.  There is no argument that the prison population in the US is growing at an astonishing rate and this book is one of the better attempts I have read in explaining why things are the way they are. The writing style of this book isn’t bad.  In fact in comparison to many books focusing on sociological studies it does an excellent job of presenting information in a conversational style.  Most books in this genre tend to be on the bland side and come off closer to text… Read more »

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